Somalia: Have FMS leaders been compromised by Farmaajo?

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MOGADISHU, Somalia | The current political impasse in Somalia could yet again take another shape, following a statement which was issued by the Federal Member States [FMS], following a standoff between outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.

For a fortnight now, differences between Roble and Farmaajo have escalated into an entire-blown crisis, which risks eroding substantive gains made in the past seven months, following mediation efforts by the international partners, who have been pushing for stability in the country.

It all started with the abduction and subsequent death of Ikran Tahlil, a junior employee within the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA], who until her demise was the cyber security expert within the intelligence agency.

So divisive has been her death that struggles between the executive have now gotten to new levels, threatening to dismantle the fragile state. To safeguard the transparency, Prime Minister Roble suspended NISA boss Fahad Yasin to pave the way for independent investigations.

But the move irked Farmaajo, who, besides elevating Fahad Yasin to National Security Advisor within the presidency, installed Yasin Abdullahi as the new NISA boss, contradicting the appointment of Lieutenant General Bashir Mohamed Jama alias Goobe, which Roble made.

To further stamp authority in the security sector, Roble used powers conferred upon him to dismiss security minister Ambassador Hassan Hundubey Jimale, replacing him with Abdullahi Nor. The move was also contested by Farmaajo, whose mandate expired in February.

Despite efforts to reconcile the leaders, the differences further escalated after PM Roble dismissed the appointment of a 5-member Commission of Inquiry towards the death of Ikran Tahlil, insisting that the Military Court had full responsibility to investigate the matter. Farmaajo appointed the Commission.

The family of the deceased backed Roble's actions while denouncing the commission of inquiry. The PM further released a statement accusing Farmaajo of "obstructing justice, adding that he will ensure justice prevails.

The family has since sued Fahad Yasin and three others in the military court, arguing that the deceased was in contact with a number of them before her disappearance in June. Already, Goobe, an appointee of Roble, has taken over NISA.

Farmaajo-Roble imminent fallout

The death of Ikran Tahlil and controversy on elections have seemingly jeopardized the relationship between Farmaajo and PM Roble, with the stalemate likely to stagnate the gains made so far in Somalia. The country is holding elections.

As a response to actions by the PM, a furious Farmaajo suspended the powers of the PM in what pundits relate to the investigations towards Tahlil's death. Further, there are concerns that Farmaajo wants to regain security powers to "manipulate" presidential polls.

"Since the Prime Minister of the FGS has violated the Provisional Constitution, the powers of the Prime Minister and all correspondence related to dismissals or appointments have been frozen until the completion of the country’s elections by the named Independent Commissions," Farmaajo statement read.

But in a tough-worded statement on Thursday, PM Roble dismissed the decision by Farmaajo to suspend his powers, arguing that the president's mandate expired on Feb 8. The PM said, "The president is in four years, ended on February 8 of this year".

Further, he insisted the move by the president violates the constitution of the federal republic of Somalia, adding that he will continue executing his responsibilities. He identified several incidents where the president has "blatantly" overstepped his mandate.

"The letter issued by the President titled “suspension of the powers of the Prime Minister promoting elections” clearly violates the Provisional Constitution and it falsely misinterprets articles 87 and 90 of the constitution as they do not mention any interference of the president in constitutional powers of the Prime Minister and his Government," read the statement.

"Therefore, based on the Supremacy of the Constitution, the Prime Minister, referring to article 4 paragraph 1 of the Provisional Constitution that dictates the Government to accept only decisions in accordance to the Constitution, at this moment declares that the unconstitutional letter issued by the President is null and void, and will not be complied with."

So, what's the stand of FMS leaders?

In the past two weeks, leaders from various federal states have strongly supported actions by the PM. Jubaland and Puntland issued separate statements accusing Villa Somalia of antagonizing the PM.Similarly, Southwest President Lafta-Gareen and his Galmadug counterpart Ahmed Kaliye alias Qoorqoor were quick to note the disconnect and even went on to try to meditate the stalemate.
 
A few issues were initially agreed on, but since then, it seems the agreements have been discarded.But in a surprise move, the FMS leaders on Thursday issued a watered-down statement providing their perspectives on the ongoing political crisis in Mogadishu.
 
The statement focused on the need for federal leaders to resolve their differences and expedite the much-delayed elections.Curiously, the vague statement does not blame any FGS leadership for the crisis and appears to shield Farmaajo.
 
A source told Garowe Online that Galmadug President Qoorqoor, under the guise of conciliation, manipulated the FMS leadership into issuing a statement that undermined the PM.Perhaps waking up to the trap President Qoorqoor laid for them and the ensuing public outcry, the spokesman for the Puntland presidency Jama Deperani was quick to offer a clarification on the intended purpose of the statement and endorsed Somali PM’s leadership on elections.
 
But analysts are of the view that President Qoorqoor has already done enough damage and weakened the unity of the FMS leadership and perhaps, more importantly, bought space and time for the beleaguered outgoing President Mohamed FarmaajoFMS leaders have also agreed to convene in Garowe on 21-23  September.
 
The FMS leadership will meet to discuss the completion of the elections without PM Roble, who was in charge of conducting the elections in the country. Roble has already insisted that he's in order of elections.Even in the middle of this confusion, it seems Roble is in charge of different government departments.
 
Key among them is the security sector, where his NISA appointee Lieutenant General Bashir Mohamed Jama alias Goobe appears to be fully in charge. "The fact the national news agency [SONNA], Radio Muqdisho and the national broadcaster SNTV all decided to suspend and blackout Mr. Farmajo weeks ago and the fact that finance ministry, police, and  NISA under Gen. Bashir report to Somali PM, reveals that Farmajo’s rule in Somalia ended," says Abdirashid Hashi, an analyst on Somali matters.GAROWE ONLINE

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